Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Musings on Safety

Safety and security. It really is a subjective matter. When do you feel safe and secure? When do you feel threatened. I grew up in a house that was never locked, and I carried that habit through to our house in Florence. We did not lock the house on a daily basis, but only when we were going on vacation, at which point we usually had to search for a key. We felt we were in a very safe neighborhood. Did our neighbor feel safe? Probably.  Did they lock their doors? Probably.
Putting our dinghy "Melody" up on the hip for security 

Growing up I always felt safe, but Bob grew up in the Chicago area and felt the need to develop much more of a "street sense". So can we say it is safe in Raleigh but not Chicago? What about Cambodia? Do you think of Cambodia as safe? Our son was just visiting there and reported feeling very safe. Does this mean bad things happen to people in Chicago but not in Raleigh or Cambodia?

Recently we chose to bypass both St. Lucia and St. Vincent due to reports of crimes against cruisers, and yet we talk to people who have been to both places recently and they have talked about what a pleasant time they had. Chances are had we stopped in those places nothing would have happened to us and we could report about our lovely time there and how nice the people were to us. While passing by St. Lucia we made the decision to stop for one night between the Pitons. It was a good stopping point and stunningly beautiful.  There have been reports of robberies in that area, and yet, when we pulled into the mooring field the park ranger assured us we would be very safe there. Who is right? Those warning us of the dangers? Or the park ranger telling us we are safe? A bit of both?
Petit Piton, St. Lucia 

As we travel down the Caribbean Island Chain we watch and listen to what others are saying and doing. When we were in the BVI nobody was locking their dinghies. Every once in a while we would see someone locking up and inevitably they were cruisers who had been in other areas of the Caribbean. As soon as we headed east from there, everyone was locking their dinghies, both at the dock and at night by the boat. In areas that are perceived to be more troubled people would raise their dinghies out of the water at night in addition to locking the dinghy and its motor to the boat.

It is not just cruisers who adjust their safety habits to fit the area. In our pre - cruising days we traveled to Costa Rica and were surprised at the number of houses and businesses that had iron bars over all their windows. Fast forward to an evening in Bequia. We were caught in a downpour one evening so we stepped into a cafe that was closed for the night. It was an open air cafe, but everything was left out, tables and chairs, table clothes, decorations. No bars (no windows) and apparently no worries. Do the people in Costa Rica put up bars because of their experiences, or because their neighbors did? How would the people of Bequia react to the first business that puts up bars? Would a house in Costa Rica without bars be more vulnerable just because it had no bars when all the neighbors did?

Safety is part reality and part perception. The unknown inherently has more of a tinge of danger than our own, known, neighborhood. Us vs. Them. We react very differently to hearing about a break - in in Timbuktu vs our next door neighbor's house. Proximity matters. Perception matters.

Here on a boat our neighborhood is constantly changing. The new neighborhoods are places where the relative safety is reported by others. We watch what our neighbors are doing. Are they locking their dinghy? Lifting their dinghy? We talk to people, we read reports on the internet. Do we really know what areas are safer? No, but we do our best.
Another new neighborhood and our new neighbors

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